Monday, 27 February 2017

Level 3 in Games DesignUnit 73: Sound for Computer Games

Level 3 in Games DesignUnit 73: Sound for Computer Games

By Ben Allardyce

The Last of Us

I feel that Gustavo used this music to convey the emptiness of humanity throughout The Last of Us. The instruments that he used are very reminiscent of spaghetti westerns you can hear the similarities in this track at 1:50 -  2:15 This also fits well with the game play since in The Last of Us you can ride on horseback which is often associated with western style films. The music is important to set the tone of the game, The Last of Us is a very emotional game filled with tension, so this had to be put across in the music which I feel is done very well. Personally I don't think there is any Foley in this track, Foley is where you add sound effects into the track after it has been recorded. A great example of this is shown in this video at 2:40 - 3:20 where they show the creation of the sound effects for certain creatures in game.
Timbre is what makes two instruments sound different even when they are playing at the same note and volume, timbre is made because the sounds resonate at different frequency. Waveform is the graphical representation of signal, this includes sound vibrations. The main theme from The Last of Us sounds like the wave length would be a lot longer and dragged out to create the slow tones in the background of the track.

I believe this sound isn't just to create emotion but also convey information, I believe that a lot of the tracks in The Last of Us symbolise loneliness, not just the main theme for example this track is also very sombre.
An audio environment is how the track is recorded and therefore listened to, for example surround sound is a system involving three of more speakers, this enables the listener to have a more realistic effect. For example in the main theme for The Last of Us at 0:34 to 0:40 there is footsteps in the background, when I listened to this with headphones it sounds as if the person is walking from one side to the other, this is stereo sound. Considering that Gustavo was hired by Naughty Dog and created the all of the music in house, I cant imagine there being many legal issues however the music would have to be copyrighted so no one else is able to use it without crediting the original artist. Gustavo would also have to be careful when creating the music, as to not use any copyrighted music or Foley.

Little Big Planet 3 OST - Dead Heat

Personally this I think that this music doesn't work very well, there seems to be a lot going on at once that kind of put me off the main theme of the track, however it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously which fits in well with the game.
 The track seems to give the sense of machinery and perhaps some sort of factory based level. From what I can hear there seems to be some Foley in this track in the form of beeping, especially at 2:49 to 3:00. This is a big part of what makes it technically different when compared to The Last of Us main theme. I can imagine that the timbre was a big part of this track as it would allow us to distinguish the different sounds created by the same notes and volumes. I think that the wave form of this track would be drastically different to the wave form of the main theme for The Last of Us. I think that the wave length would be a lot shorter for Dead Heat, as there are a lot of quick beats and drops.
I think the music symbolises the craziness of the game and how its not supposed to be taken as seriously as a triple A title like The Last of Us would be. The track 'Dead Heat' uses the audio environment of stereo sound to give the perception of natural sound your ears would hear. You can hear this at 2:47 - 3:02 in 'Dead Heat' when the beeping in the background is alternating ears, if you listen using stereo headphones. The sources of the music especially Foley can come from anything from professional instruments to garbage cans. They are then often edited in a studio to create the sound you are looking for.

Task 2

Due to The Last of Us being a massive game, and both that and Little Big Planet being developed for a very popular platform, the tracks can afford to be uncompressed, which therefore means its a higher quality of sound. On Windows it would be saved as a WAV file, it is designed to store a lot of different audio formats, including lossy  and lossless. Since WAV can store PCM, this makes it suitable to store the original recording. The audio files are probably passed around to been edited quite often and so there would have to be a naming system as to not confuse the files. An example of this would be Chapter1_Cutscene2.WAV. The bit depth is the number of bits in each sample, and they correlate to resolution of each sample. An example of this is that audio in DVDs can store up to 24 bits, so would have a bit-depth of 24. The bit depth affects the bit rate and so the higher the bit depth, the more information can be sent or received per second, therefore the higher the bit-depth the higher the file size. There can be several constraints on what the file size is for audio, a major one being RAM obviously there is a specific amount of RAM on the PS4 and this cannot really be changed and so the developers have to take this into consideration. If it were on PC however this wouldn't be some much of an issue for the developers and more of an issue for the gamers as they would have to up the amount of RAM they have to be able to hold the games data. It also takes more data to output the audio in different ways, for example mono sound is only one channel of sound and so the file sizes wouldn't be as big as if it was outputting as surround sound. PCM is a form of sound that has been decoded from audio sound before it is outputted. It has to be uncompressed and has a high bit-rate and so will be a large file size. Gustavo has a very particular sound so it is easier to identify when Foley has been used in his tracks.

There are several different ways to record the audio, one being multitrack, this is where you record from multiple sources of sound on different tracks or at different times. DAT is a digital audio tape that is used to record digitally on tape at a relatively high level of quality. Its also quite a low cost and so is great for gathering several recording on one device. A sequencer is a piece of software that puts together a from a sequence on MIDI events. MIDI itself allows digital music to communicate with each other, advantages of MIDI are that it is compact meaning that an entire song can be in a couple hundred MIDI messages whereas audio data has to be sampled thousands of times a second. MIDI is also very easy to change, for example the pitch and duration can be edited without having to rerecord. MIDI also only describes the notes that you play meaning you send these notes to almost any instrument thereby creating any sound. The game can also be put onto a blu-ray disk which would allow for HD graphics and surround sound, you can tell it is ready for Blu-Ray because it is already on quite a large platform not on mobile. Doing this improves the quality of the game tenfold, this is especially true for The Last of Us. Its genre fits around this type of sound very well as it complements the environment and game play elements. It adds tension to the game by sending you sounds from different areas for example if there was a noise from the left you would hear it in your left ear and none in your right. Mono sound is where it comes from just one source making it sound very flat and two dimensional, stereo sound is where it comes from multiple sources and surround sound is where the sound will come from whichever direction it should do giving it an almost three dimensional effect and help immerse you in the game.

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